Cable Railing Code and Safety Requirements

Cable Railing Code and Safety Requirements

Cable railings are a great addition to any home or business because they’re durable, modern, and beautiful. Additionally, you have an unobstructed view because you’re looking through cable balusters as opposed to lumber balusters. You might be asking how a larger opening and smaller cable is safe. Fair question. As with any residential or commercial project, there are codes and safety requirements to follow, and cable railings are no different. If you’re searching for information about cable railing code and safety requirements, we’ve got you covered in our guide below.

Review Your Local, City, or State Codes

Before starting any project (railings or not) you need to contact your local municipality office. The reason is, a lot of states require you to obtain a permit before starting any work. Failure to get a permit could result in your local authorities issuing a warning and potentially a fine, and the last thing anyone wants is a fine.

Codes are vital to completing a project successfully and properly because they hold you accountable to safety standards. While each local code could be different, there are some general guidelines you can follow that tend to overlap regardless of city and state.

Ensure Proper Cable Spacing With the Sphere Rules

The balusters on a traditional wooden deck are typically four inches apart, but those are much thicker than cables, so how far apart should cables be? Well, of course, you must reference your local codes to be certain, but generally, you can use one of the two sphere rules. The rule ensures any gaps or spaces throughout the railing design are narrow enough to keep people safe.

The first rule is called the four-inch sphere rule, which indicates a four-inch ball shouldn’t be able to pass through any gaps in the railing design. Most builders aim for keeping the spaces between cables no more than three and a half inches wide. The second sphere rule involves a six-inch ball; this rule only applies where stairs are involved. When a stair tread meets a stair riser, the two form a triangular shape, and a six-inch ball should be unable to pass through that opening.

Your Posts Must Be Tall Enough for Your Application

Most state and local codes require railing posts to be 36 inches tall for residential applications. If you’re in California, they require residential posts to be a minimum of 42 inches tall. Similarly, the International Building Code requires commercial railings to be at least 42 inches tall as well. All these requirements and codes are simply to keep everyone safe, and if someone were to fall, the railings are tall enough for them to catch themselves.

While these cable railing code and safety requirements are technical and time consuming, they’re absolutely necessary. If you fail to follow local requirements, you’re essentially asking for fines and a lawsuit if someone gets hurt.

An important factor in the construction of cable railings is the quality of the materials. American Cable & Rigging is proud to offer the best cable railing hardware available. If you’re in the area, stop by our retail location, or check out our online shop today. Of course, if you have any questions, we’d be happy to answer those too.